Feeling “behind” in life is a fatal trap that will land you into a pit of pressured- productivity, poverty thinking, and powerlessness. It’s important to note that “feeling behind” is a feeling. And though all feelings feel real, they aren’t all factually based. Feeling behind does not represent truth. Feelings are not always facts.
In this post, you’ll learn how to detox your attachment to feeling behind and instead how to step into being happy where you are at, as you confidently and enthusiastically look forward to where you are going.
Where to start when you’re feeling behind in life? To start, it’s important that you know that the process of training your thoughts (click here to learn how to do that) requires that you ask yourself whether a thought is a fact or a feeling. Most of the time, the things we feel and the anxieties that burden us are feelings, not facts.
There are a lot of reasons we can convince ourselves that we are behind in life. But being “behind” is not real. We are simply where we are.
You may feel like you are behind in life because you wanted to be married ten years ago and all of your friends now have kids. You look at the life you wanted and wonder why it’s not yours.
You may feel like you are behind in life because you wanted to be more financially stable and more advanced in your career, but you’ve had some closed doors, painful circumstances, and unexpected challenges that have slowed down your plan. You look at your friend who is where you want to be and it seems like you must be doing something wrong.
You may feel behind in life because you’re still struggling with the secret binge eating and compulsive exercise cycle that is sabotaging your weight and health. You had told yourself that you would go after that dream or that relationship when you looked better, but you just can’t seem to get it together. Half of your friends make staying healthy look easy and thoughtless and you wonder what’s wrong with you.
In all of these scenarios, we are not actually behind on anything, because life is not a race or a competition. Sometimes culture convinces us that it is and we measure ourselves up against societal norms, but such self-assessment does nothing but rob our joy and our ability to be present.
There are a lot of habits we blindly adhere to that convince us to rush in the season we are in, subconsciously communicating to us that we are behind and therefore need to hustle.
I am particularly susceptible to this toxic mindset. I’m a Type-A, overachieving Enneagram 3. I justified toxic thinking for years, claiming that I “couldn’t help it,” and that it was just part of my personality to go, go, go, do, do, do and to never be satisfied.
I victimized myself when I made myself powerless to my personality.
The thing is, we are not powerless to our personalities. In fact, in each personality type, there is a way to be a healthy version of that personality or an unhealthy one.
I felt like I “couldn’t help” being in a rush, being a go-getter, and hustling to do more than was reasonably healthy. I had goals, big ones, and I wanted to prove myself. I felt like it was something I couldn’t help, but the fact was that I could.
Part of me liked being an overextended overachiever. But in reality, the pressure I put on myself that made me “feel behind” ultimately sent spiraling into self-sabotage and unexpected micro-depressions.
Something needed to change. Two things, actually.
#1: I needed to change my pace of life.
#2: I needed to change my mindset about life.
Mind you, I didn’t want to do either. It feels easier to stay in the bliss of comfort and of doing what you have always done.
If what you have always done isn’t actually working for you, it’s time to take an honest look and make the uncomfortable changes you’re avoiding. I certainly haven’t mastered this, but I’m working at it and am in a place of willingness to do it. In fact, I’m still bumbling along at a snail’s pace of successful progress, but since forward is a pace, I am learning to merely rejoice that I am going in the right direction.
Here are some small shifts I have made that have been instrumental in helping me detox the toxic thought that I am behind. It is my hope that you will experiment with them in your life as well. Oh, and this is not for the faint of heart or for those who want a quick fix. This is a slow burn, a marathon mindset, and a daily effort kind of thing.
The good news is that you are not alone in your efforts. I coach hundreds of women on these principles, helping them apply them to their daily lives in real, practical and personal ways. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not the only one. You’re not weird and you’re not alone. (Click here to find out more about joining us for encouragement and support).
HOW TO NOT FEEL BEHIND: MINDSET SHIFTS
1. “This is where I’m supposed to be.“
I use this one often in my own self-talk. When I find my mind wandering with “what if’s” and “maybe I should’s,” I ground myself back into the present moment with this gentle reminder. I remind myself that “this is where I am supposed to be, and wherever I go tomorrow is where I will be then.”
You’ll find, as I have, that using this simple phrase will help you not waste the day thinking about tomorrow. Instead, you’ll be able to live the day today without feeling behind.
2. “I can’t wait to see where I’ll be tomorrow.”
This mindset thought is an expansion of the first one listed above. I use this once I am feeling peace about where I am at the moment. Keep in mind, it requires some measures of intentional release to let go of the thoughts that run through your mind, whispering to you that you’re not doing enough or about how nice it would be if you were “further along.” (Click here to find out more about how to manage your thoughts).
Once present, this mindset of gratitude will give you even more power to position your mindset to one that is persistent in its positivity. Moreover, it gives praise and thanks for where God is guiding you tomorrow, subsequently erasing any anxiety or worry thoughts you would have previously had.
3. “Why the rush? I choose to walk in peace and I refuse to rush through life.“
I ask myself this question all the time. Why the rush? Seriously, though. Why are we in such a rush? We rush through our days, we rush through our emails, we rush through our life timelines, desperate to get from one phase of life to another. Why the rush?
I have a personality that likes to do too much and to do it too quickly. A chronic go-getter, this phrase helps me remind myself that I am in recovery from a lifestyle of rushing, anxiety, and busyness.
4. “I embrace that ‘forward’ is a pace.”
It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you make progress on the goals in life that matter to you, just that you are moving forward. Forward, my friend is a pace. In fact, it is the only pace that matters. When you know that you are moving forward, you know you are going in the right direction, forward. It’s nearly impossible to feel “behind” if you confidently know that you are moving ahead.
To embrace this mindset it is imperative that you release your sense of time and learn how to wait well. Every season of life has waiting it in, the sooner we learn to wait well, the happier we will be.
5. “I choose to be extraordinarily content where I am today.”
Before you think this will contradict your drive and desire for growth – this statement does not mean you are settling. Instead, it means that you are proactively and intentionally grounding yourself with gratitude. This opens the door of being able to be present and to have peace.
The decision to be content with where you are is a decision that will free you from anxiety and pressure. The world pressures us to be discontent; deciding to find joy where you are is a radical way to live.
HOW TO NOT FEEL BEHIND: HABIT SHIFTS
1. The Structured Morning
A simple morning routine is a foundation for the pace – and the peace you feel – for the rest of the day. By setting aside 15-20 minutes at the beginning of the day to renew your mind and your body, you are in control for the rest of the day.
Stretch, do a quick workout, pray, journal, read your Bible, there is no right or wrong way to structure your morning routine. It’s just imperative that you do it. Figure out three to four things that will make you feel like you’re winning the day out the gate.
2. Champagne Moments Journal
Being motivated is good, but being so focused on where you want to go can sometimes robs you of the ability to see just how well you are doing and how you are growing. Enter the Champagne Moments Journal.
By tracking and taking note of your champagne moments, or wins of any size, you will start seeing just how much growth and progression you are making. The ability to see how we are growing gives us confidence and reassurance that we are in fact, going in the direction we are supposed to be. When we go, we grow. And, as long as we are growing, and going, we will feel a sense of satisfaction and confidence that are doing well and are not as “far behind” as we previously thought we were.
3. Convert Comparison into a Compliment
One of the most insidious ways we rob confidence from ourselves is by comparison. As Teddy Roosevelt famously stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Unfortunately, we live in a culture that encourages comparison and invites us into envy in every nook and cranny of our lives. Comparison will almost always leave us feeling less than, like we’re behind, and questioning whether or not we are doing enough. So, to counter this toxic trap, practice the habit of turning every comparison into a compliment.
It works like this. If you feel yourself comparing yourself to someone else, notice it, acknowledge to yourself that comparison will only make you feel miserable and will steal your joy – and then compliment that person in your mind. They look great and you wish you had their weight loss story? Great. Tell yourself that they are doing awesome and that you can do that too. Did your neighbors just upgrade their deck and buy two new cars, while you’re struggling just to pay your mortgage? Great. Tell yourself that they are thriving beautifully and that you’re happy for them, for they inspire you that better times will come for you too. The compliments you give out to others will eventually boomerang back to you in your subconscious mind.
4. Create Daily A/B/C Priorities
This habit is pure gold. Before you go to bed at night, take a look at your calendar and activities for the next day. Instead of creating a mega to-do list, which is bound to leave you feeling overwhelmed and directionless, identity 9 total priorities. You’ll pick 3 priorities to fall into the A category, 3 to fall into the B category, and 3 to round out the C category. When you wake up the next morning, tackle the A priority items first until completion before you work your way down the list into the B’s and C’s. In general, the A’s are the must-dos, the B’s are the would-be-nice-to-dos, and the C’s are the these-could-also-get-done-tomorrow-dos.
If you’re looking at your obligations and are unable to reduce the number down to 9 or less, then you need to do a schedule overhaul. This system forces you to take into consideration your overall wellness and balance. As you implement this A/B/C Priorities habit, you’ll notice an increase of productivity momentum and progress which will inevitably make you feel like you are moving forward (and not lagging behind).
5. Decide Daily to “Do Peace“
A peaceful life flows from a peaceful mind. It’s not the elite, the lucky, or those with “easy” lives that have peaceful minds. No, those who walk in peace have decided to do so. They do peace. Peace, though it is a state of living – a state of heart – is a thing that we either do or we don’t do. It’s a belief system that we either live in agreement with or we don’t.
I’ve learned that our culture goes against this belief system of peace. It tells me to do more, to be more, to achieve more, to look at others’ lives more (instead of my own) and it tells me that if I just work hard enough, I am skinny enough and rich enough, then one day I will be happy. I reject that system and those beliefs. They are simply untrue. Life is not measured in what we accrue or achieve, but in how we live and how we love.
The thing is, we have to choose to “do peace” daily because we are living daily in a world that is trying to convince us otherwise. This habit is a simple settling of your heart. It is something you can do in just a moment in the morning, and a moment at night. It helps you align your priorities, reduce the pressure of self-criticism, and have an eye for what really matters: living well and loving well.
The verse Galatians 5:1 (“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”) inspires me to renew my freedom and my peace every day. It is a daily decision. And so, be encouraged, and be specific, as you walk confidently in freedom, of what that really means for you in your life.
Standing firm in our peace is an active decision. Here are some examples of the proclamations I have made in my mind to help me stand firm in peace:
I am free from rushing.
I am free from striving and working to prove myself.
I am free from binge eating and mindless drinking.
I am free from comparison and competition.
I am free from compulsive exercise and calorie counting.
I am free from caring too much about what people think.I am free from attaching my identity to metrics.
I am free from needing to impress people.
I am free from impatience.
I am free from measuring my worth by money.
I am free from anxiety.I am free from being too busy and feeling behind.
I am free from self-sufficiency and trying to do it all on my own.
I am free from people-pleasing.I am free from trying to make my own way.
I am free from the hustle of always trying to do more.
I am free from feeling compelled to prove myself. I am free from shame.
I am free from caring what people think of me.
Now it’s your turn. Go ahead, comment below, and proclaim what you are going to stand firm in believing. When you decide to “do peace” it starts with internal self-talk and peace proclamations like these suggested above. The more you do these, the easier it will become to feel that peace personified in a way that you can feel in a tangible way throughout the day. Peace is a proactive state of thoughtful living.
As you think about these mindset and habit shifts, be kind to yourself. Remember that learning new behaviors, particularly ones in our thoughts, takes time and patience. You are not behind, you are exactly where you need to be, and as long as you grow by learning and applying what you learned today, then you are going at the pace you are supposed to be going.
YOU NEVER HAVE TO FEEL BEHIND AGAIN
If you implement the above suggested mindset shifts and habit strategies, you will never have to feel behind again. Will you still experience the emotion of feeling behind? Yes, of course. The feeling will pass almost as quickly as it arrived.
Like all thought management, the ability to manage your mindset (which is to not hold onto toxic thoughts or negative thinking and instead to hold onto only thoughts that serve you), it will always take effort. You will always have unhealthy thought patterns pass through your mind – the difference is that you won’t feel obligated to jump onto those thought trains and they will simply pass.
Training your thoughts is no different than training your body. It requires structure, a plan, and daily attention. If you don’t know how to train your thoughts or want to take your mindset fitness up a notch, then enroll in the College of Confidence. The College of Confidence has dozens of courses specifically on how to train your thoughts and change your life starting at the core of your thought life. Click here to find out more.
Cheering you on,
Other resources on how to overcome and detox the feeling of “feeling behind” you can check out are:
Podcast Episode #289, How to Be Happy With Where You Are On Your Journey
Free Webinar Masterclass: How to Stop Caring What People Think. Click here to save your seat.